Navy keeps mum on Cute Abiola’s detention as lawyer appeals for his release
It is exactly 18 days the popular Nigerian Instagram comedian, Abdulgafar Ahmad, popularly known as Cute Abiola, has been detained in the custody of his employers, the Nigerian Navy.
The comedian, who is also a Naval personnel, was arrested at his duty post (office) on November 14 for violating the Nigerian Armed Forces Social Media Policy is still in custody of the navy.
The policy specifies the dos and don’ts of personnel as well as salient regulations concerning their usage of social media on issues of official concerns.
Cute Abiola, who boasts four million Instagram followers, is also an actor and ambassador for several notable brands.
Since his arrest, attempts by PREMIUM TIMES to speak with the Nigerian Navy spokesperson, Suleiman Dahun, in order to get an update on the matter have proved abortive.
On November 25, this newspaper contacted Mr Dahun for an update via telephone calls, text and WhatsApp messages, but they were left unresponded to.
When this newspaper called Mr Dahun on Wednesday he initially responded but hung up immediately our correspondent identified himself.
Cute Abiola’s lawyer speaks
Cute Abiola’s lawyer, Fatai Adebanjo, however, gave this newspaper an update on his client on Wednesday.
Mr Adebanjo appealed for the swift release of the comedian for the sake of his wife and aged mother.
According to him, Cute Abiola’s wife has been depressed and traumatised since his arrest nearly three weeks ago.
He also noted that his client’s parents left their businesses in Ilorin, Kwara State, and have been in Lagos since their only child, Cute Abiola, was arrested.
” The wife has been depressed, she cries everyday, the mother has been in Lagos, and she can’t go to Ilorin because that’s her only child”, his lawyer said.
When the Nigerian navy eventually confirmed Cute Abiola’s arrest and detention on November 17, his fans believed that it was connected to an Instagram post he made on November 13.
Cute Abiola posted a video of himself clad in military uniform and wielding a gun. It was from one of his scenes in Funke Akindele’s comedy drama, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’.
His lawyer has doused the speculations.
He said the said video which many have been speculating as the reason for Cute Abiola’s ordeal, could not be a valid reason for the arrest.
He said: “The video many had assumed to be the reason for his arrest, was posted by the comedian on Sunday, November 13, while the comedian was arrested on Monday, November 14. This was after he received an order from his superiors at work the previous week.
His lawyer also opened up the circumstances surrounding the comedian’s arrest and continued detention.
He said: “Cute Abiola was on a one-week leave to attend to his personal issues, out of Lagos, when he was called by his superiors to resume at work”.
“Cute Abiola did not deliberately ignore the order by not terminating his leave. Instead, he waited and completed his one-week leave before he resumed”.
The lawyer also explained that in the said video, the comedian did not disregard the Nigerian Navy in any way.
” Cute Abiola wore an improvised police uniform and a toy gun in one of his scenes in Funke Akindele’s comedy drama, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’. It was not a naval uniform,” he added.
On November 17, the naval spokesman told this newspaper that the comedian violated the Armed Forces Social Media Policy.
It was the first and last time Mr Dahun would agree to speak with this newspaper on the matter.
He said the policy specifies the dos and don’ts of personnel as well as salient regulations with regards to their usage of social media on issues of official concerns.
Mr Dahun also said that Cute Abiola was summoned by his superiors from his leave to explain himself but he called their bluff and exhausted the period of his leave.
“Cute Abiola resumed and reported to his office on Monday where he was arrested and is currently awaiting trial”, he said.
Shortly after the conversation with this newspaper, the navy spokesman issued a statement debunking trending speculations and acknowledging that Cute Abiola is in their custody.
In the statement, the navy reminded its personnel to comply with provisions of the Armed forces social media policy in their usage of social media platforms. The policy, amongst others, is emplaced to protect the integrity of activities of the armed forces.
Cute Abiola is not a stranger to controversies.
This is also not the first time the Instagram comedian would be arrested by his employers.
He was arrested in 2020 after his birthday pictures in Navy uniform went viral. His offence was a breach of the Nigerian Armed Forces Social Media Policy
He was later released on May 4, 2020.
Armed Forces Social Media Policy
The Nigerian Armed Forces Social Media Policy is embedded in the Armed Forces Act of 2017.
The law gives guidelines for use of Social Media by military personnel including the extent to which members of their families are allowed to use social media.
“Personnel should not post their pictures or those of their colleagues in military uniforms, or pictures containing military structures, platforms and other military-related items,” one of the slew of cautions in the guidelines reads.
It also states that military personnel are also required to warn their family members against controversial conduct on social media.
“Personnel will be held liable for any security issues arising from postings in respect of them by civilian friends or relations. They are, therefore, to educate their friends and relations as necessary regarding military security and what should not be posted on social media,” the guideline reads.
Finally, the policy stipulated actions on social media that are regarded as offences and punishment to be meted out.
Cute Abiola became a household name in 2015 and has featured in several comedy skits and movies.